Maria Bowman, Old Town Mercado Development Association
Maria Bowman, from the Old Town Mercado Development Association, has as long history of real estate business and community service in Escondido, and has served on Committees of the City and Chamber of Commerce. It is almost 20 years since the Board first met and also made a presentation to the Escondido Rotary Club. It was formed as a non-profit in 1989. It focusses on the West side of Center City Parkway near the Grand Avenue intersection.
The Mercado Business Association was started to improve the Mercado District of downtown Escondido, west of Center City Parkway as a “Mercado Project Area” to create an “Old California” area of restaurants and stores. At the time, the area had no street lights, was a drug and gang infested area, with many homeless people, and with biker gangs frequenting the local bar and Red Coach Inn. The problem was due in part to the blocking of Grand Avenue at Center City Parkway, which created a barrier between the two parts of downtown. They contacted the City and the Chief of Police and worked with them and things started to change within a few years due to their persistence and efforts.
Maria worked to bring in investors with a grocery store opening and restaurants. The “Mi Guadalajara” was opened on a drug infested lot. There is also the Jalapeno Restaurant. Now that the Recession is behind us, and the economy is recovering, there is still a chance to invest in the area. For example, the former Police Headquarters has been purchased for development. On Pine Street facing Center City there is a proposed mixed use development including residential apartments which will be close to Escondido’s transportation hub – the train and bus depot. The goal is to have residential development so there will be residents who can be built-in customers for local businesses within walking distance, and discourage homeless and criminal activity. The Mercado Business Association is a 501(c)(3) corporation.
The Goals of the Association are:
- Plan, promote and market El Mercado Business District
- Link business development with community development
- Develop local businesses and attract new ones
- Promote and improve the images of both the Mercado and Escondido